“I love the kids, they're just great. They put a smile on my face and that's when I know I'm doing the right thing. This is really what I want to do.”
Green Run High School senior Alicia Hanaczewski is an aspiring third grade teacher. She's getting hands-on teaching experience through an internship at Windsor Oaks Elementary School where she devotes about 15 hours a week to a third grade class.
“I usually specialize with a certain group of students who are usually identified with more learning disabilities or who just need extra help,” she said.
Even when she's not interning, Alicia is still there many days, before and after school. She helps with PTA events, works at the student store, assists with the two largest student clubs and served as a coach for the group Girls on the Run.
“I love it because you really get a feel for what the school is like,” Alicia said.
Dr. Sherri Archer, principal of Windsor Oaks Elementary School, says Alicia is a great role model.
“She knows how to make wonderful relationships and connections with the students, and then she has that true passion. It's her calling. It's already in her to do what she's doing,” Archer said.
Alicia recently received the school's volunteer of the year award. And she was about to get even more recognition for her hard work.
NewsChannel 3 and Ynot Italian presented Alicia with a Students Taking Action Award. She received a $100 savings bond, a Students Taking Action medal, a gift card for a family dinner at Ynot Italian and a pizza party for her class.
“We've always told her to spread her wings and fly and she's done that beyond our measures,” said Shane Saddler, Alicia’s mother. “From all the teachers from elementary to middle school to Green Run, without their help to us as parents she wouldn't be where she's at today.”
“I’ve had so many teachers who've just inspired me to want to be a teacher, through elementary school on into high school. I just want to give back to the community just as they have given back to me,” Alicia said, and added she hopes to be a great teacher one day like her First Grade teacher, Mrs. Bookhart, who still teaches at Windsor Oaks Elementary School.
“She’s the definition of what a true teacher should be,” Alicia said.
Alicia will attend University of Mary Washington and plans to work for Virginia Beach Schools one day.